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Senate rice inquiry set for June 14

CEBU, Philippines – The Senate committee on agriculture and food will conduct an inquiry into rice importations in the country without importation permits from the National Food Authority beginning this week.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the committee, in her letter to Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon dated May 31 stated the inquiry will be on June 14 at 1 p.m. at the Senate building in Manila.

Faeldon in his letter dated June 8 directed all district collectors nationwide to attend the inquiry.

BOC-Cebu District Collector Elvira Cruz will attend the inquiry.  To recall, BOC-Cebu was able to apprehend more than P500 million worth of rice importations in March after the consignees failed to present import permits.

However, majority of these rice shipments were already released by Cruz in May after the consignees were able to submit the import permits and after payment of Customs taxes and duties.  Cruz had said that from January up to now, they were able to collect P533 million in taxes and duties.

Villar in her letter said that the Agricultural Smuggling Act or Republic Act 10845 was turned into law on May 2016.

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“This law considers large-scale smuggling of agricultural products as economic sabotage,” Villar’s letter to BOC reads.

Villar also wanted to inquire whether there have already been cases filed in violation of the law. —/JBB (FREEMAN)


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